Art Smart: Build a Book

Text and photography by Annie Ballin

Books are invaluable no matter what form they are presented to us. Online publishing is a wonderful advancement. However, let’s not forget the pleasure of a bound book. Learning how to create and bind your own book is a really fun thing to do. Once you master the basics, be sure to play around with sizes, papers, covers and threading patterns. Lots more ideas can be found online by googling “Japanese book binding instructions.”

What You Need
  • Lightweight paper
  • Heavyweight paper (we used watercolor paper for the cover)
  • Scissors
  • Clothes pins or heavy clasps
  • Nail or awl
  • Cardboard or wood plank that can receive the end of a nail
  • Hammer
  • Embroidery thread or string
  • Needle for threading
  • Markers, paints or other materials for decorating the cover
How to Do It
  1. Fold each piece of copy paper in half. Note: Horizontal fold will create a 5½ by 8½ inch book
  2. Measure and cut two pieces of heavyweight paper a bit bigger than the inside pages. We cut them 6 by 9 inches.
  3. Stack the page paper with the folded edges on the same side and sandwich between the cover pieces.
  4. Using your clips or clasps, secure the paper stack tightly.
  5. Using your ruler, measure and mark the following places: Make a line with a pencil ½ inch from the edge and make a mark along the ruler in half or one inch increments down the line.
  6. Place your book on the wood plank or stack of cardboard. Then, using a nail, carefully pound through each mark on the stack of paper until it goes through the other side.
  7. Use a long piece of thread and a needle to bind your book, as shown in the photos. Tie off the ends.
  8. Decorate the cover and fill the pages with your stories, ideas or drawings.

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